The government is working over-time to rebuild the Colombo-Jaffna railway, at great cost and with much fanfare. But the fact is that even after the tracks are ready, using the old trains, it will still take half a day to get to Jaffna, travelling from Colombo.
If the government is genuinely concerned about the people of Jaffna, and truly eager to link up North with South, it should install a railway system that reflects modern realities. The country needs a “fast track” to Jaffna.
Sri Lanka is completely out of touch with the modern railway industry and prevailing international standards. The authorities seem unaware of how technologically advanced railways are in other countries. The upgraded Indian railway system is cost-effective and reliable and delivers in terms of both passenger and freight services.
Sri Lankans and the international community are eager to see lasting peace and harmony established between the people of the North and South. What we should do is modernise our railway system, based on new technology, and establish a fast electric railway track connecting North and South. The total distance is a matter of just 190 miles. We should be able to cover the distance in one or two hours.
The TGV in France broke the 200 mph barrier more than half a century ago. Sri Lanka should move forward and catch up with the technological advances in the railway industry.
The Sri Lanka government could ask European nations, as well as Japan and China, for advice, and possibly assistance, in this matter.
Who knows, a fast track to Jaffna, one that gets us to the North in one or two hours, may be just what the country needs to unite the country, bring communities together and avert another bloody war.
The North has been too far away and out of reach for far too long.